Theatre: Season's Greetings

Friday night I finally managed to catch Season's Greetings at the National Theatre. This revival of Alan Ayckbourn's black comedy has been showing since late last year and has received some great reviews. Set during the Christmas holiday period in the early 1980s, it focuses on an average English family Christmas where relationships have gone stale, children abound (although not on stage), and people have had a little too much to drink. I'm assuming that it is an average English family given the number of comments overheard during interval such as "that's a bit close to the bone" or "it reminds me of my family."

These were also rather curious comments given that the first act's final scene must rank as one of the funniest on stage for some time. It involves a sexual tryst gone wrong and a rather annoying toy that blows a whistle and beats a drum. I guess there are some English proclivities I might not fully understand.

Of course in some ways the hysterical brilliance of the first act makes the second act feel a little of a let down as realism and despair creeps in. But what makes this play so enjoyable is the incredible cast that includes Catherine Tate, Jenna Russell and Marc Wootton. Wootton has a particularly funny scene as a drunk in the second act in which his wife Pattie (played by Katherine Parkinson) has a novel approach for resolving.

The set design is a brilliant deconstructed 1980s house complete with brass down lights, a pink toilet (even though I couldn't see it from where I was sitting it was bound to have carpet on the floor) and vile wallpaper. The look of the show complemented the disconnection and isolation of the characters and takes you back to the era of acrylic and leaded petrol...

As the Audioboo below notes, we were all pretty impressed by the performance of Oliver Chris as the Clive, the interloper in the proceedings. This is a central character and his appeal gives some credibility to the story. Oh and his nipples were protruding from his sweater in the first half of the show. And that was strangely appealing as well and were giving their own performance throughout the first act.

The show is largely a sell out through to mid March but you can get day seats at the box office from 9.30 each morning on show days, particularly if you can't get tix to Frankenstein...


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